DAKAR, Senegal 

A boat carrying 40 asylum seekers capsized Thursday off Mauritania and only one person survived, according to UN officials.
 “Tragic news coming in of a shipwreck off the coast of Mauritania. Some 40 people were reportedly on board,” Charlie Yaxley, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said on Twitter.

“These are the awful consequences of immoral and unscrupulous smugglers and traffickers arranging these desperate sea journeys,” he added.

Vincent Cochetel, the special envoy of the UNHCR for the Central Mediterranean, also shared the news of the incident, saying there was only one survivor — a Guinean national.

“UNHCR & IOM [International Organization for Migration] along with authorities & partners are trying to step up efforts to prevent such tragedies, but traffickers keep lying to their clients,” he said.

The West African asylum seekers on board the boat were trying to reach Europe through Spain by crossing to the Canary Islands, seeking a better life.

After it became a highly preferred route for human traffickers, the Spanish Coast Guard took measures and succeeded in preventing such passages to a great extent.

*Writing by Sena Guler in Ankara

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